January 16, 2008
Can Congress Shame Colleges into Decreasing Tuition?
It can’t, according to a new opinion piece by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Congress is currently considering a piece of legislation that would require schools to report any tuition increases – the thought being that colleges and universities won’t want the scrutiny and shame that would result.
“For one, some institutions will respond by reducing their discounts to students to keep their tuition increases down, while others may shift their biggest percentage increases to living expenses that would not be monitored under the proposal. And as already noted in the news media, most of the colleges with the highest tuition levels would not even have the federal spotlight shine on them because their endowments allow them to keep tuition increases low and help them provide more aid.
Nor is the proposal to require institutions with the highest tuition increases to set up cost-cutting committees likely to do much good. The amount that colleges spend for each student generally does not correlate with tuition increases over time. The evidence and logic suggest that college pricing decisions are more a function of market forces or revenue effects, like the amount of state support that institutions receive or the growth of their endowments.”
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